Last Thursday was the Bayer Center’s annual TechNow conference.  This year, it featured terrific breakout sessions on everything from thin client computing and greening your IT to how to make oneself over from accidental techie to intentional techie.  Also, there was plenty of networking.  Some participants won fabulous prizes including a 32″ plasma TV.  Also, Ami Dar from idealist.org gave a keynote speech that managed a rare feat: it was both practical and inspiring.

As if all that weren’t enough, this year’s conference featured a musical number that turned into a sing along.  See the “studio version” on the conference web site or the live performance below.  And save the date:  next year’s TechNow is tentatively scheduled for October 28, 2010.

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I know I can sound like a broken record when it comes to our TechNow conference (“come to TechNow, come to TechNow!”) but it is heartfelt and not just promotional marketing.

I was a TechNow attendee before I started working at the Bayer Center.  It was my first technology conference and it opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t alone in my “nptech” endeavors.  I used to be the mostly one-person IT shop at my old nonprofit, and TechNow helped me to expand my support network, meet some new vendors, and to think about the possibilities.  It can be difficult to be innovative when you deal with the same grind day-in and day-out, without taking time out to sharpen the saw and to think and dream about “what could be” rather than what is.

I’m also excited about this year because our keynote speaker is Ami Dar from Idealist.org.  Ami is amazing, in my opinion, because he has been all over the world, is self-made (see below for details), and is truly innovative in his thinking.  I’ve read and watched interviews and speeches by Ami, and I know he’s going to bring us all something great to stretch our minds and challenge our paradigms.

I recently asked Ami to complete a list that I used in a promotional email.  His answers were pretty neat, so I’m going to repeat it here for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

10 Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know About TechNow 2009 Keynote Speaker, Ami Dar

  1. AmiDar_webHe was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Peru and in Mexico, and lives in New York.
  2. He dropped out of high school and didn’t go to college.
  3. He can’t drive.
  4. Thirty years ago he was a paratrooper in the Israeli army.
  5. There is a classic video game that shares his name: “Amidar,” released in the 80’s by Atari.
  6. He started Idealist in his apartment with $3,500.
  7. He loves playing backgammon.
  8. He eats everything except eggplant and spinach.
  9. He gets annoyed by conference organizers who call themselves “curators.”
  10. Many people who meet him online think he is a woman.

Fascinating guy, eh?  I personally can’t wait to hear what he has to say!  And now it’s time for one last shameless plug…

There’s still time to register and hear Ami speak at the TechNow 2009 nonprofit technology conference, which will happen at Robert Morris University’s Sewall Center on Thursday, October 29!

Visit http://technow2009.wordpress.com for more details and registration information.

Note:  The early bird registration deadline for the TechNow 2009 conference is this Thursday, October 8!  Register at http://www.rmu.edu/bayercenterregistration to take advantage of the discounted fee.


Presenting Sponsor: TowerCare Technologies

Presenting Sponsor: TowerCare Technologies

Summer draws to an end, the kids go back to school, and leaves start changing colors.  That means it’s nearly time for TechNow!

TechNow is the Bayer Center’s annual conference devoted to the new and important technology trends and resources for nonprofits.  Since TechNow affects virtually every area of a nonprofit’s mission, it is beneficial for non-techies as well as techies to attend.  We promise you’ll learn a lot, network with like-minded people, and…have fun!

For more info on the conference, including breakout session, keynote info, and scholarship/payment options, visit the conference website at http://technow2009.wordpress.com.

Here is this year’s list of the top ten reasons you should attend TechNow:

10.  Cream pies are back!!

9.  Your friends will be there.  If you don’t know anyone into nonprofit tech, you will have new friends by the time you leave…we guarantee it.

8.  The exhibitor who gave away the widescreen TV last year has hinted about bringing another fantastic give-away.  They won’t say what it is, so we’re all left to guess at it.  (The Bayer Center has a few fantastic give-aways of its own stashed and ready.)

7.  If you’re getting stimulus money (or federal funding of any kind), your website must be compliant with Section 508 web accessibility guidelines.  There will be a breakout session where you can find out what that means.

6.  USB drives are back.  Conference materials will be pre-loaded, so note-taking is optional.

5.  Our exhibitors are great local tech companies who “get” nonprofit organizations.

4.  If you don’t know about GIS, thin clients, user interface design, or green IT…you’ll learn all kinds of new stuff!

AmiDar_web

Our Keynote Speaker: Ami Dar, Founder & Executive Director of Idealist.org

3.  The conference has its own Twitter feed!  Follow it at http://twitter.com/TechNowConf. We will broadcast the feed on the main screen during the conference so you can give immediate feedback for sessions, locate friends and colleagues, tweet interesting session points, etc.

2.  We have scholarships available and a “Budget Impasse Payment Plan” – visit the conference website for details:  http://technow2009.wordpress.com.

1.  Ami Dar, Ami Dar, Ami Dar!  ‘Nuff said!

Register today by calling 412-397-6000 or online at:  http://www.rmu.edu/BCNMregistration. We hope to see you there!

Those of you who know me, know that I get really excited about TechNow, our annual nonprofit technology conference.  TechNow energizes me in a way that only one other event in the year really does (and that would be NTEN’s tech conference).

Hence and therefore, please don’t be shocked if I’m spouting TechNow from here until October.  When I get excited about something, I tell people.  This is no exception.  🙂

So….mark your calendar, tell your fellow techies, co-workers, and friends!  TechNow, the annual conference devoted exclusively to nonprofit technology, will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2009.

Ami DarThis year, we have another fabulous and relevant keynote speaker for you!  We will be joined by Mr. Ami Dar, the founder and executive director of Idealist.org.  Built in 1996 with $3,500, Idealist has become one of the most popular nonprofit resources on the web, with information provided by 90,000 organizations around the world, 70,000 visitors every day, and a staff of 60 in New York, Buenos Aires, and Portland.  Ami plans to speak about how nonprofits can successfully collaborate, accomplishing more with fewer resources.

This year, we are delighted to be hosted by Robert Morris University at its very own Sewall Center, located on RMU’s Moon Township campus.  The Moon Township campus is near the Pittsburgh International Airport and is easily reached via car or Port Authority bus.

If you would like to be notified when TechNow conference registration opens on the Bayer Center’s website, email me at leonard@rmu.edu.  Look for more TechNow updates in the upcoming months, including a re-vamped conference website!

Hooray for Technovians everywhere!

At our TechNow 2008 conference last October, we had Holly Ross from the Nonprofit Technology Network (aka NTEN, www.nten.org) as our keynote speaker. 

NTEN is the membership organization of nonprofit professionals who put technology to use for their causes.  It is essentially a community of peers who share technology solutions across the sector and support each other’s work.

I’m excited about one of NTEN’s latest projects: a book entitled “Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders.”  The book features a variety of topics on nonprofit IT strategy by a range of recognized experts in their fields:

  • Achieving IT Alignment with Your Mission – Steve Heye, YMCA of the USA
  • Managing Technology Change -Dahna Goldstein, PhilanTech
  • Measuring the Return on Investment of Technology – Beth Kanter, trainer, blogger and consultant
  • IT Planning and Prioritizing – Peter Campbell, Earthjustice
  • Finding and Keeping the Right People – James L. Weinberg and Cassie Scarano, Commongood Careers
  • Budgeting For and Funding Technology – Scott McCallum and Keith R. Thode, Aidmatrix Foundation
  • Introduction to IT and Systems – Kevin Lo and Willow Cook, TechSoup Global
  • Where Are Your Stakeholders, and What Are They Doing Online? – Michael Cervino, Beaconfire Consulting
  • Effective Online Communications – John Kenyon, nonprofit technology strategist
  • Effective Online Fundraising – Madeline Stanionis, Watershed
  • The Future if IT in Nonprofits – Edward Granger-Happ, Save the Children

As I type this post, I’m attending an online book release party where we are listening to each author talk about his or her chapter.  Sounds like good stuff to me – I can’t wait for my copy to arrive!  It’s available for order at: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470343656,descCd-description.html

If you aren’t ready to commit to purchasing the book, you might be interested in checking out the wiki for the book on which bonus materials, questions, and discussions are being added:  http://www.meetyourmission.org/.